For most travelers who haven’t been, hiking to Machu Picchu, the once-lost Inca castle, is often at the top of the travel wish list, and it has been on the list since the 20th century after a thorough scientific exploration of it by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. It was subsequently inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983 and designated as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Modern World” in 2007.
However, like many archaeologically sensitive sites, Machu Picchu became a casualty of its own, with poor tourism restrictions putting it on the brink of extinction. That’s why organized tours are one of the best ways to experience the Inca capital, using local guides to allow visitors to experience the region with the respect and reverence it deserves. Here are five of the best Machu Picchu trekking tours that are done out of environmental awareness, value for money and itinerary considerations.
A classic Inca tour.
More often than not, the classic route is the best. The Inca Trail is the most popular route to Machu Picchu and therefore one of the most accessible. The trail takes about 5 hours of hiking per day, and it does take over 4,000 meters of trail, so it’s not ideal for the physically challenged. However, the challenge is well worth it in order to see the archaeological complexes of Rinculacay and Machu Picchu, as well as the panoramic views of the Andes along the way.
Machu Picchu Four-Day Lareth Hike
In addition to the Inca Trail, the Larese Hike is a great option. The most obvious benefit is avoiding most of the tourists along the route, but choosing this route has much more to offer. This trek passes through local communities such as the village of Kiswarani, as well as the hot spring baths of Lareth, and is ideal for relaxing after a few hours of walking. This itinerary will also go over the Condo Pass, a 4700m pass that is quite a challenge for those who have not taken the time to acclimatise to the higher altitudes of the Andes. The last day is reserved for Machu Picchu, where you will travel by car and have more time to explore the site or the surrounding mountains.
A short two-day hike to Inca.
If you want to complete Machu Picchu in less time than other tours, but still want to hike this revered site in the right way, then this two-day hike, which starts at Chachabamba and enters Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, is a great option. There are other attractions along the way, including the archaeological ruins of Chachabamba, Venevayana and more. After seeing Machu Picchu in the afternoon, the next day you can go see the Inca Maze at dawn. There is also extra time to visit Warner Bichon if you want to move on.
Sol Cante Hiking and Machu Picchu
Solcantay is close to Machu Picchu, but because of the distance, most tourists don’t go that far, so Solcantay is a good mountainous area and is the best place to hike in the region. The starting point of this trip is to go over the fascinating peaks leading to the Salkantay Pass, which is 4,580 metres above sea level and is best for visitors who are already accustomed to the Andes. Other highlights include the Lakota Pata Inca site and the cloud forests along the Savayako River. The best is Machu Picchu, saved for last.
The Machu Picchu Expedition.
From US$ 1,164/person
If you want to experience the journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu, then Machu Picchu Adventure is a great option. This eight-day tour is a bit longer than others, and while it may offer better value for money, it also promises more of an experience. In addition to the fifth day of the Machu Picchu trip, highlights include a trip to the Sacred Valley, visits to weaving cooperatives and pottery makers, and a train ride through the fascinating Urubamba Valley to Aguascalientes. Hotel accommodation and breakfast are included, as well as all transportation costs.